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Cultivation …

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Cultivation …
Yusei earns 1st pro win

Once an overhyped high school kid with a hard fastball -- and holes in his game -- Yusei Kikuchi has been grinding out his days on the farm to raise his level. He plowed through the Orix Buffaloes’ lineup long enough on Thursday at Kyocera Dome to earn his first pro win.

Kikuchi went five-plus innings, allowing two runs on two hits and two walks with three Ks in a 6-2 win over Orix. Not outstanding numbers, and the hard-throwing lefty got the hook after walking the first two men in the sixth inning.

But hot-hitting Takeya Nakamura blasted a pair of longballs, his Japan-leading 19th and 20th shots, and Dee Brown had two hits and a walk with two RBIs to support the second-year hurler.

Kikuchi lasted just 2.1 innings in his pro debut, a no-decision to the Hanshin Tigers in which he allowed four runs on six hits and a walk.

“The coaches told me, ‘Throw like you think this is your last chance,’” said Kikuchi, who spent all of last season on the farm. “I want to be sharp and go the distance next time.”

The Lions dropped the series opener, but ran off two wins to take two of three from the Buffaloes and move into fourth place.


Yu Darvish (10-2) allowed seven hits and three walks but fanned 13 to become the first 10-game winner in Japan, and just the second hurler in franchise history to win in double digits for the sixth straight season as host Nippon Ham held of Lotte to snap a three-game skid.

Atsunori Inaba had a pair of hits and two RBIs and Sho Nakata drove in a run--his 12th in starts by Darvish, who fanned 10 or more for the fourth straight game and won his fifth straight at Sapporo Dome.

Sho Iwasaki (2-1) won his second straight decision, handcuffing Rakuten on three hits (and two hit batters) with no walks and five Ks to help SoftBank come back to win at The Kleenex Box.

Alex Cabrera had the go-ahead RBI single in the sixth, and Toru Hosokawa had three hits and an RBI to back Iwasaki.


Maximo Nelson helped Chunichi contain host Yokohama, holding it to one run on five hits and no walks with eight punchouts over seven innings as the Dragons halted a four-game skid.

Kazuhiro Wada had two hits, including a three-run homer that highlighted a four-run third as the Dragons avoided the sweep.


Ryota Wakiya’s sac fly in the bottom of the ninth tied the score and Tony Barnette escaped a jam in the bottom of the 10th inning as Yakult blew a lead but held on for a 10-inning tie with Yomiuri at Tokyo Dome.


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